Last weekend we went to our first agility trial in 3 years where I remembered a bunch of things I forgot, learned some new things and generally has a nice, hot, exhausting time! We have had less than 2 months practice to get ready for the trial so I did not have incredibly high expectations. Below is a rundown of our individual runs followed by the lessons learned.
Advanced Gamble – Our first run of the day started with plenty of barking (my bad handling). We completed enough obstacles to earn 24 points (we only needed 16) however I stepped over the line in the gamble because I assumed we incurred a refusal. In the end it was a non-qualifying run but I wasn’t really expecting miracles – we got the one starters gamble leg we needed in 2007 before the Starters Games title requirements changed and I think it might have been a fluke.
Starters Jumpers (1)
This was a gong show. the course looked easy however the inclusion of a straight tunnel (twice!!!) meant Bear picked up a ton of speed and I could not get to my planned crosses soon enough. We earned 2 refusals and a knocked bar for our efforts – all 100% my fault.
Starters Standard (1)
This was the event I was hoping to qualify in – we only needed one leg to complete our title. Bear completely missed the weave poles and I had to call him back – he did them properly the second time and then drifted again on a rear cross…otherwise the run was perfect until he jumped over the down contact on the A frame (3rd to last obstacle). I was relatively happy with that run since he was quiet and mostly attentive. right after we went to the pee pit and he had a #2 so clearly the sniffing was a hint that he had to go to potty and I am fortunate that he did not go on course because that makes things difficult for everyone else for the rest of the day.
Starters Jumpers (2)
This courser was somewhat easier in that it was a bit slower however, I misjudged the placement of one of the jumps and Bear blew by it. Had I been paying attention, I would have seen that Bear’s jumping path after the tire would take him way out to never land, thanks to his super long stride. We recovered, finished the course and I even managed to call him off of a tunnel which is a big fat deal for a dog that LOOOVES tunnels.
Starters Standard (2)
This was the final run of the day. Bear did NOT want to return to his crate after the jumpers run – he was tired and hot (temps were around 30 degrees Celsius). I hoped he would just be able to keep it together long enough to finish the course. The course started of with the A frame which we completed successfully and things went reasonably well until we got to the weaves. we wasted valuable seconds finishing those but managed to do it and finish off quite nicely. It wasn’t a pretty run (see it below) but we QUALIFIED!
This was the 3rd and final leg required for Bear’s Agility Dog of Canada Title.
Things I remembered:
- I need to take Bear to potty about 2x more than I think I do!
- Bear is REALLY fast – in some cases as fast as the Shelties and Border Collies out there
- I am REALLY slow – at least compared to Bear
- Bear works better when he’s quiet and when I am handling better.
Things I learned
- We need to work on contact obstacles at a distance – we would likely have qualified if we were both more confident in that respect.
- We need to work on rear crosses. By we, I mean me. In our jumpers runs I saw opportunities for rear crosses and chose front crosses instead because I am more comfortable with them but the reality is that in order to do a front cross I need to be AHEAD of Bear…fat chance!
- We need to work on weave poles. Messing around with weaves cost us a lot of time (20 seconds in our last run!!) and now, in advance standard we need to make the weave entry on the first time or we cannot qualify. When you say that you would be willing to volunteer as course builder – that means you get assigned to building EVERY course that day.
- Course building is actually not so bad, you actually work for about 15 minutes between courses and then can sit back and relax while teams are running.
- Course building is also a great way to learn about how courses are built, what kinds of challenges judges like to (and are allowed to include in a certain course).